Spartan

Bomb Rating: 

If there's a writer in this world more in love with himself than David Mamet, the guy is locked in a room somewhere with his pants down and his head between his legs, and he hasn't seen the light of day in several years.

If there's a writer in this world more in love with himself than David Mamet, the guy is locked in a room somewhere with his pants down and his head between his legs, and he hasn't seen the light of day in several years.

Listening to a David Mamet character in a movie is kind of like listening to a high school student read from a novel he doesn't quite understand. If I had a dime for every metaphor and euphemism that shoots from somebody's mouth in this film, I could probably hire Mamet to write movie reviews for a year.

But let's be honest: Mamet's well aware that his characters sound unlike any human beings that have ever populated this planet (unless Paul Harvey and Madeleine Albright had some kids I don't know about). He does this crap intentionally. Instead of one character asking another character if he has a quarter for a phone all, suddenly we're treated to some story about poker playing tree monkeys and five minutes later one character finally hands the other character the quarter looking like he's just experienced the Dinner Theater version of "Finnegan's Wake."

Okay, there are no stories about poker-playing tree monkeys, but I was too lazy to write down all the goofy crap the characters say. Secret Service agent/assassin Scott (Val Kilmer) calls up a contact at one point and leaves a message by saying "Tell him it's the man who heard him call on Jesus." It's that kind of crap that drives me nuts. How about "Tell him Scott called"? Or you could even come up with a catchy pseudonym. Just anything I'm not forced to think about for the next ten minutes.

Another thing about Mamet films is that characters repeat themselves. They say the same line again. They say the same line again. I think the reason for this is that when Mamet finishes his first drafts, his screenplays are only 60 pages long and he needs to lengthen them.

The story here is that the President's daughter (Kristen Bell) gets inadvertently kidnapped and taken to the Middle East, and Scott must go get her. Actually, there's a lot more to it than that, but I won't try to explain it other than to say I pretty much knew where this film was headed after about ten minutes. It screamed conspiracy louder than a Naderite at a Presidential debate.

In a way, Val Kilmer is the perfect David Mamet actor: He has no personality and he delivers his lines like he's dictating in Chinese. William H. Macy, who plays another agent of some sort, might have been a better choice for the main role, except that I think nobody would ever believe Macy could kick anybody's ass. Unfortunately, Kilmer has never been able to carry a film and he doesn't do it here, either. Then again, this is probably Mamet's exact intention. If the actors are too good, then they upstage his words, which he considers the real stars.

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